Maine: 2011 Whitetail Forecast

Maine: 2011 Whitetail Forecast
Maine: 2011 Whitetail Forecast
On the East Coast, Maine is well-known for its huge deer. That often means huge-bodied – bucks at 200-plus-pounds dressed, does in the high 100s dressed – but it can also mean big racks.

One reason Maine's deer get so big, other than climate, is there aren't many of them – and in some areas they're on the decline. While some East Coasters still travel up to Maine to "get their deer," the state's herd – especially in the north – has been hit by several ongoing factors which make getting a deer tougher. These include things like changing (older) forests, higher coyote populations and deep snow, but in particular the loss of overwintering areas, said state deer biologist Lee Kantar.

As a result, the state has a much lower deer population than its remoteness and size would indicate (though it does have a world class moose population, the best in the lower 48). "It's a challenging place to be a deer," Kantar said. Hunters still can and do get their deer there every year, and often it's a good one.

"It's about quality in Maine," he said. "We have low to moderate deer densities, and because of that we grow some decent deer. A buck even two or three years old here will be a nice deer."

Deer Population: 150,000-200,000


Economic Impact of Deer Hunting: $200 million


Best Areas


Numbers

For numbers of deer, stick to the coast and the greater Bangor area, Kantar said. It's all about archery – just one buck, but some areas allow limitless antlerless deer. The coast means milder weather and more people, which combine for more deer. The only challenging part can be getting access to hunt.

Quality


Quality, whether measured in weight or points, "could really be anywhere," he said, "no question about that." He noted that while the "far north" has few deer, "when someone comes upon a deer, it's typically a big one." That said, a 20-pointer was taken from Maine's midcoast area last year, so "it's hard to know where [big deer] will come from."

Current Status of the Deer Population: 1-5 scale with 1 being poor and 5 being optimal

"I guess I'd put it at 3, right in the middle," Kantar said. In general terms, the south and central parts of the state are decent for deer, but up north it's tough and getting tougher.


Status 5 Years From Now

Kantar said he hopes Maine will be a 4 five years from now, but he can't tell for sure because he can't predict the weather. Still, with a recent reduction in any-deer permits – thus allowing more doe survival – he anticipates "some definite [herd] growth, barring a very severe winter."

Biggest Factors Over the Next 5 Years

The major challenge over the next five years, as it has been every year, is to conserve and increase the amount of deer wintering habitat, Kantar said. In some areas of the state – vast areas – he's up against towns with no town governments, few year-round residents and folks choosing to cut trees for a profit rather than conserve some stands as winter habitat for deer.

He's focusing on winter habitat because "all of the other forms of mortality – predation, road kill, poaching, even disease – are all difficult things to tackle to get a significant population increase."

Any Doom and Gloom?

To the question of whether he can foresee any areas of his state having a large population decline or crash at some point, Kantar said that a population decline has happened and is still happening in northern Maine because of the above factors. This basically amounts to a shrinking of the whitetail range in northern Maine, and "it will be extremely challenging for us to maintain deer at current levels [let alone] get some improvement there."

What really crushed Maine's deer, he said, was the spruce budworm epidemic of 1970s and '80s, which "helped bring down the balsam fir and spruce that were winter shelter." Yet it wasn't all bad for ungulates: That's also the same phenomenon that created so much excellent moose habitat.

Recommended for You

 Several factors need to be evaluated before reaching a conclusion about what fly, lure or bait Trout & Salmon

How to Catch the Biggest Trout in the Stream

David Paul Williams

Several factors need to be evaluated before reaching a conclusion about what fly, lure or...

How does one go about getting rid of chiggers and treating chigger bites? Your first line of defense is insect repellent with DEET to keep chiggers at bay. But when you do get a few chigger bites, use Chigarid to treat them. Hunting How-To

How to Treat Chigger Bites

Lynn Burkhead

How does one go about getting rid of chiggers and treating chigger bites? Your first line of...

Memorial Day sale offers 15 percent off everything website-wide. Coolers

Get Ready for Summer with Cordova Coolers

May 23, 2019

Memorial Day sale offers 15 percent off everything website-wide.

See More Recommendations

Popular Videos

Lure Lock Tackle Cases: No-Spill, No-Scent

Lure Lock Tackle Cases: No-Spill, No-Scent

Glenn Walker talks us through the soy-based technology that makes Lure Lock cases spill-proof and scent-proof. With Game & Fish Editorial Director Adam Heggenstaller at ICAST 2019 in Orlando.

New 4-Liter Dry Creek Gear Pouch from Simms

New 4-Liter Dry Creek Gear Pouch from Simms

Outdoor Sportsman Group writer Lynn Burkhead gets new product details from Simms Fishing Product's John Frazier about the new waterproof 4-Liter Dry Creek Gear Pouch.

Mustad

Mustad's Saltwater Jig Lineup

Russ Whisler shows OSG's Lynn Burkhead the innovative features and great color schemes in Mustad's voluminous lineup of saltwater jigs introduced at ICAST 2019.

See more Popular Videos

Trending Stories

Experts agree record channel cat caught in 1949 was actually a blue catfish. Records

Upon Further Review: 70-Year-Old Catfish Record Voided

G&F Online Staff - May 22, 2019

Experts agree record channel cat caught in 1949 was actually a blue catfish.

 A 7 pound giant taken on a jig during the pre-spawn transistion in the Midwest.

Although the art Bass

4 Tips When Jig Fishing For Bass

Chris Schneider - August 25, 2015

A 7 pound giant taken on a jig during the pre-spawn transistion in the Midwest. Although...

 Veteran bass anglers often dismiss urban fishing opportunities as Bass

Bass Pond Fishing: Catch Lunkers at Small Lakes Near You

Dan Anderson - February 13, 2018

Veteran bass anglers often dismiss urban fishing opportunities as "kid's fishing ponds," but...

See More Stories

More Stories

 Brian Meyer likes to have coyotes within 20 yards! He uses an SKB shotgun for his coyote killing Stories

Coyote Calling Tips for Hunting at Close Range

Tim Lilley - January 09, 2014

Brian Meyer likes to have coyotes within 20 yards! He uses an SKB shotgun for his coyote...

From a world-record crappie to the best gear of the year, these hunting and fishing articles were most popular with our readers. Stories

Game & Fish's Top 10 Stories of 2018

G&F Online Staff - December 24, 2018

From a world-record crappie to the best gear of the year, these hunting and fishing articles...

Once considered a denizen of the Western wilds, the coyote has learned to adapt to human Stories

Coyotes In Suburbia

Stephen D. Carpenteri - November 30, 2016

Once considered a denizen of the Western wilds, the coyote has learned to adapt to human

See More Stories

GET THE MAGAZINE Subscribe & Save

Temporary Price Reduction

SUBSCRIBE NOW

Give a Gift   |   Subscriber Services

PREVIEW THIS MONTH'S ISSUE

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.

×